Now the new regulations (taken from the Guardian), which come into force in 2011 state that;
Minimum requirements: English language, knowledge of British life, can support themselves without benefits, no prison record.
• Extra points for: earning potential, special artistic or scientific talent, qualifications, shortage skills, better English, living in area of population decline, eg Scotland.
• Points deducted for: failure to integrate, active disregard for UK values.
• Voluntary work, including canvassing for political parties, could accelerate citizenship application.
• New pre-entry language test for foreign partners coming to marry.
• New two-stage knowledge of the UK citizenship test.
Of course, none of this applies to half a billion (mainly white) citizens of the Europe Union, who can happily stay in Britain without the faintest idea which party runs the country, 1066 and who is who in Eastenders. Like the Brits abroad in Costa Del Sol or Provence they are not penalised for "a failure to integrate" or showing an "active disregard for UK values". Nor are they required to bother with learning any more of the language than is needed to order another round.
No, these requirements are for rest of the mainly non-white world whose values or common sense cannot be trusted. These rules are for "blacks" and "coloureds" as they were termed under South African Apartheid. "Europeans" (i.e whites) need not bother with such matters as their skin colour is proof enough of the fact that they are "civilised" and so can be trusted to behave properly in polite company.
I wonder if anyone has noticed the irony at the heart of this particular clause?
"Voluntary work, including canvassing for political parties, could accelerate citizenship application."
So you will be allowed to take part in getting a party elected but you won't be allowed to vote since voting rights are dependent on citizenship. Isn't this like inviting somebody to dinner but then refusing to serve them? On the other hand, as the Observer points out other forms of political participation such as taking part in anti-war demonstration means a possible loss of points.
Of course people seeking citizenship don't go on demos, their presence in their new country is so precarious they rarely take part in such actions, knowing that they risk far more than others there. No, this little clause is a sop to the Daily Mail reading lumpen middle class, outraged that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan faced protests from British muslims.
The whole system stinks as it is a blatantly racist attempt by the Labour government to "get tough" on immigration. In the short term it achieves little other than headlines but the real damage comes from the way it legitimises other forms of racism, subtly endorsing prejudice, reinforcing ideas that far right groups like the BNP thrive on.